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Infrastructure Development and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of Bangladesh


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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/coxs-bazar-economic-game-changer-making-269590#.YN9JCbdMkoY.facebook

Abul Kashem

02 July, 2021, 10:55 pm

Cox’s Bazar: An economic game-changer in the making

 

The work of a mega plan to develop the coastal slope by the Bay of Bengal like a Singapore or Hong Kong city is going on in full swing despite the nationwide strict lockdown

When the entire nation is placed under strict stay-at-home order, machines keep whirring round the clock at least 77 project sites in Bangladesh's south-eastern district Cox's Bazar under a mega plan to develop the coastal slope by the Bay of Bengal like a Singapore or Hong Kong city.

The investments are also hefty – more than Tk3 lakh crore, which is equal to 1.5 times of an annual development programme, has been allocated in a single fiscal year.

The plan aims at a massive change to the landscape of the district that now only supplies salt, rubber and fish, making it a hub for tourism, trade and connectivity, better coupling the South Asian region to the Southeast Asian nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

Viewed from the air, the Cox's Bazar international airport – its modernisation now near completion – will look like an oyster shell and its runway will stick right out into the blue sea waters, making a flight take-off even more exciting.

 

Work on connecting the land of natural beauty to Dhaka, Chattogram and other districts through rail lines is also going on to turn its enormous prospects of tourism and deep-sea port-based trade to account. The rail connectivity is expected to launch in a year or so, which will ease the commute to the tourist city.

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Not just communication infrastructure, the Matarbari port, the country's first-ever deep-sea port at Maheshkhali in Cox's Bazar, will also be the gamechanger for the country's economy. A deep-sea port – in the fashion of Japan's Kashima port – will play a significant role in enhancing trade connectivity with Bangladesh's main import destinations China and ASEAN countries.

The government is also establishing island-based ecotourism parks along with a modern international airport and economic zones and a power generation hub in the district.

Cox's Bazar, a strategically important place in South Asia, has been neglected since independence despite its huge potential for tourism and investment. The people in the coastal district were destined to survive by fighting natural disasters.

Against this backdrop, the government has been implementing the master plan since 2009 to harness the tourism and investment potential of the district.

During a visit this June, it was found that all the projects were running at top gear overcoming the pandemic-led slowdown.

Among the ongoing megaprojects, the modern airport, the rail line, the 1200MW power plant, the Single Point Mooring (SPM) with a double pipeline, Sabrang Tourism Park and an economic zone will open gradually by 2023, triggering a change in the landscape of the district.

With the launch of the Matarbari deep-sea port, the Maheshkhali economic zone will become an island-based commercial hub.

The region has already become a centre of attraction for many countries, such as Japan, China and India, with so many infrastructure development activities going on.

Work is underway to set up three ecotourism parks at Sabrang, Naf and Sonadia to attract foreign investment to Cox's Bazar and ensure various facilities as per the demand of foreign tourists.

Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza), told The Business Standard that it is safe to say that the ongoing projects centring Cox's Bazar, if implemented, will completely change the entire region from Sabrang to Matarbari in the next five years with modern tourism and a large investment.

Beza has a special economic zone covering 4,000 acres at Dhalghata in Maheshkhali. TK Group has already jointly developed 250 acres of land with a foreign company to set up a petrochemical industry and an LPG terminal there. Next to it will be a deep-sea port. As a result, several companies from different countries, including Thailand, have applied for land in the economic zone, he added.

But, Paban said it would take two to three years for all those to be ready. When Maheshkhali is connected to the mainland by the under-construction highway, the 1200MW Matarbari power plant comes into generation, domestic and foreign industries will start investing. For this, the Maheshkhali-Matarbari Integrated Infrastructure Development Initiative (MIDI) project is going on.

Abu Morshed Chowdhury Khuka, president of Cox's Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industries, told TBS that the megaprojects being implemented in Cox's Bazar will make the region one of the biggest economic hubs in South Asia in the next five to six years. Once the Rohingya problem with Myanmar is resolved, it will be easier to connect with the Asian highway.

Work on Cox's Bazar international airport is nearing completion. There will be huge investments in the deep-sea port, LNG terminal, modern tourist centres, and economic zones, most of which will come from big domestic and foreign companies. In order to involve local businesses in this development journey, the government has to take initiative now to build a backward linkage, he said.

If there is a huge investment in Maheshkhali and Teknaf in the next five-six years, skilled manpower will also be needed. But the government is yet to give an account of how many skilled workforces will be required. If this information is available in advance, local educated youths can take the necessary training to develop their skills from now on, he added.

Flights will run for 24/7

There is now no alternative round-the-clock communication system to go to Cox's Bazar except by road. Flight operations at the Cox's Bazar airport, which was built during British rule, now become impossible when daylight goes off.

To keep the flight operation at the airport on for 24 hours, work on all necessary installation has been completed. Once it is commissioned officially, planes will be able to take off and land there 24/7.

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The oyster-shaped terminal complex of Cox’s Bazar airport has made over 40% progress. Photo: Abul Kashem/TBS

Work on the modernisation of the airport at a cost of over Tk1193 crore is now nearing completion. In 2015, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the work to turn the airport into the international one, sources said. 

The airport will allow tourists, traders and investors from different countries to directly reach Cox's Bazar.  Airlines operating on international routes will land here to take fuel as it will also be used as a refuelling hub.  It will work as a transit point for passengers from different countries.

According to the engineers involved in the implementation of the airport project, the construction of an international terminal building equipped with all modern facilities as part of the airport's development has made over 40% progress. The work will be completed by next December. Besides, a new separate internal terminal building will also be set up.

The runway at Cox's Bazar Airport has been stretched to 9,000 feet from 6,775 feet. Its width runway has been expanded to 146 feet from 125 feet.  In addition, the construction of an apron for parking aircraft is also in the final stage.

The government is implementing another project to increase the length of the runway from 9,000 feet to 10,700 feet to convert it into an international standard airport. As part of this, a part of the Bay of Bengal has been filled in the Matarbari part.

A 1700-foot runway will be built over the sea, which can be extended later as per necessity. Once this section is completed, Cox's Bazar airport will be able to operate all types of international flights.

Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail line to be launched in 2022

A 101km railway line is being constructed from Dohazari in Chattogram to Cox's Bazar and a 29km railway line from Ramu to Ghumdhum on the Myanmar border to ensure a comfortable, safe, affordable and environment-friendly journey for tourists and locals by ensuring rail connectivity with Cox's Bazar from Chattogram and Dhaka. 

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A partial view of the under-construction Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar rail line. Photo: Abul Kashem/TBS

More than half of the overall project has so far been completed. The Dohazari-Cox's Bazar section has made more progress, and in some areas, fish plates have been installed.

The project work, which was initially delayed owing to the pandemic and complexities of land acquisition, has now gained momentum. According to the target, if this line is launched in December next year, locally produced dried fish, salt, rubber and fish can be transported across the country at a low cost.

The government decided to set up the railway line in 2009, but the project's field-level work started in 2018. The project was taken up, aiming at making a connection with the Trans-Asian Railway corridor and bringing Cox's Bazar under rail connectivity.

Construction of the iconic station in Cox's Bazar has started under the project. Besides, Work on the infrastructure of nine stations, 39 bridges, 145 culverts, and 96 level crossings of different classes is nearing completion.

Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan laid the foundation stone of the railway station building on 14 January this year under the project. The state-of-the-art station in the country has residential hotels, food courts, children's play zones. The six-storey oyster-shaped station will have three platforms and 400 car parking facilities.

Deep-sea port to reduce export-import costs by 15%

 

With imports for Bangladesh, most of the mother vessels dock at Singapore, Colombo, Hong Kong or Malaysia, and smaller lighterage vessels carry the cargo to Chattogram port. Bigger ships will be able to moor at Matarbari directly once the deep-sea port project is completed.

Then smaller vessels will carry the cargo from Matarbari to Chattogram port or Chattogram Port Bay Terminal. This will save both time and money for Bangladesh in international shipping.

An artificial channel with a 16-metre draft has already been dug. A 100-metre extension of the already-dug channel will connect the deep-sea port that will be able to host a mother vessel with 1.15 lakh tonne cargo.               

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the Matarbari deep-sea port project in March last year. The construction site – in between Matarbari and Dhalghat – previously was a salt farming field.  

World's fourth largest dredger Cassiopeia-V has dug the salt field into the artificial channel. Stone blocks have been dumped at the opening side of the channel in the Bay to prevent siltation and to guide the rough sea.   

Currently a ship in a single voyage can carry 1,878 containers to Chattogram port. Container carriers four times bigger than the current capacity will be able to berth at Matarbari – which will reduce the import-export cost by 15%.  

The first phase deep-sea port plan consists of constructing two terminals for mother vessels and container carriers. The first phase construction, including the port and connecting roads, has been estimated at Tk17,777 crore with the deadline of 2026. In the second phase, three more container terminals will be built. 

Matarbari to be an electricity hub

 

Machines whir round the clock at remote Maheshkhali upazila to build four power plants on salt fields with a total capacity of 3,600MW.

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Work on the 1200MW Matarbari Power Plant goes on in full swing. Photo: Abul Kashem/TBS

Two ultra-super critical coal-fired power generation units, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), with a total capacity of 1200MW will be commissioned in 2023. The Jica's funding in the project is so far the largest among the Agency's other worldwide operations.

The project engineers said they already have constructed a jetty for the power plant, and Indonesian ship Vanessa Triumph anchored there for the first time in December last year with construction equipment. The construction of a separate jetty for the oil-carrying mother vessel is almost complete, which will be launched this month.   

As part of the jetty construction, a 14.3km channel has been excavated. The engineers said they are now working on the main power units and setting up the boiler.

Chinmoy Das, sub-divisional engineer of the Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL), said the channel also benefits the Matarbari deep-sea port project for transporting construction materials.

CPGCBL and Japan's Sumitomo Corporation have jointly acquired land on Kohelia river bank at Matarbari to set up another 1,200MW coal-fired power plant.

Besides, land development and infrastructures constructions have started for the Bangladesh-Singapore 700MW coal-fired power plant.

State Minister for power Nasrul Hamid last week announced scrapping construction of ten coal-fired power plants, two of which are at Matarbari.

But, the two 1,900MW power plants may be turned into LNG or diesel-run production units, said officials.

SPM to launch June next year

Oil carrying mother vessels can come to Kutubdia island as they cannot dock at Chattogram port due to low navigability in the River Karnaphuli. Smaller oil tankers carry fuels from Kutubdia to Chattogram, and thus 1 lakh lakh tonne oil takes 11 days to arrive at the port.    

The 30,000-tonne diesel carrying vessels also have to stop at the island, and unload the consignment to smaller carriers to be reached at Chattogram.  

To replace the typical process which is slow, costly and risky, the government took up "Installation of Single Mooring (SPM) with Double Pipeline" project, and Dhaka signed a deal with Beijing in 2016 in this regard.    

The Tk6,567 crore SPM project will be completed in June next year.  

Construction of three high-speed diesel and three crude oil storages has almost finished. Oil from mother vessels at deep sea will come to the storages, and then go to Eastern Refinery depots in Chattogram's Anwara,            

The Anwara depots will be connected with the terminal storages with two 220 km pipelines. Once the project is completed, 1.2 lakh tonne oil will take only 48 hours from the mother vessel to the depot – saving Tk8,000 crore annually.

"The project will end within the deadline," Tolgay Mizzak, consulting engineer of the project, told The Business Standard.        

With 1.36 lakh cubic metre LNG, Belgian flag carrier Excellence anchored at Matarbari in 2018. Since then, Bangladesh has been heavily dependent on imported liquefied natural gas.          

 Around 60 crore cubic feet LNG is being supplied from two floating terminals to the national grid per day. Summit has launched a floating terminal at Maheshkhali channel.    

The government has decided to set up a permanent land-based LNG terminal at Matarbari as the demand is growing. Two consultation firms were appointed in December last year for the project. According to government estimation, the permanent terminal will go into operation in 2025.

Posh tourism centres at Sabrang, Naf and Sonadia

Around 60-70 lakh tourists come to Cox's Bazar per year. But the number of foreign tourists is still too low.

Sabrang, Naf and Sonadia island are being turned into tourism hotspots to attract the foreign visitors. The Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA) is readying the areas as island tourism hubs.          

At Sabrang, BEZA has already constructed a five kilometre dam, and land development is now going on there. 

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The country’s first-ever tourism park at Sabrang is expected to attract foreign investment in Cox’s Bazar and ensure various facilities as per the demand of foreign tourists. Photo: Abul Kashem/TBS

The Sabrang Tourism Park will have many tourist attractions such as a five-star hotel, ecotourism, marine aquarium, sea cruise, special designated area for foreigners, Saint Martin's travel arrangements, floating jetties, park, eco-cottages, under water and floating restaurants.

The BEZA has signed deals with Singapore-based Inter Asia Group Private Ltd and local Sunset Bay for constructing the accommodation facilities. Three companies who have taken plots at Sabrang are already building hotels.  

One the facilities are set up, the spot will be able to accommodate 39,000 tourists at a time and also generate 11,000 jobs. 

Besides, construction of Naf Tourism Park is going on. It will have the Maldives or Thailand-like eco-cottage, live entertainment theatre, shopping mall, cinema, golf club and water sports beach. There will be camping arrangements at night.          

The tourism park will have cable cars, and hanging bridges.

The Naf tourism project will be implemented at public-private partnership. After the project ends in 2023, around 12,000 people will be employed here. 

"Sabrang will be a tremendous place within the next one year," said Paban Chowdhury.

He also said there will be rehabilitation packages for people who donated their lands for the ecotourism projects. 

Naf and Sabrang have a potable water crisis, said Chowdhury. "We have identified two freshwater sources in Ukhia and consultants have been appointed to bring water from there"  

He also said they have rainwater harvesting and desalination plans too.

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https://www.thedailystar.net/news/bangladesh/news/bangladeshs-promising-bourse-cash-flush-americans-can-now-invest-easily-2122849

12:00 AM, July 03, 2021

Bangladesh’s Promising Bourse: Cash-flush Americans can now invest easily

Zina Tasreen

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A hidden gem is what British banking giant HSBC dubbed Bangladesh's bourse earlier last month.

But the problem is, access to this market is rather difficult for global investors who are flush with cash but not lucrative investment options.

Foreign investors need to open a special cash account with a custodian bank as well as a foreign currency account for remittances inside and outside the country and a beneficiary owner's account -- steps not very straightforward for someone not residing in Bangladesh.

But Bangladesh's stock market could do with the liquidity for vibrancy, further development and most importantly, for economic growth.

Many profitable investments require a long-term commitment of capital, but investors are often unwilling to give up control of their savings for long periods.

Liquid stock markets make investments less risky and more attractive because they allow savers to acquire an asset in the form of stock (equity) and to sell it promptly and reasonably if they need access to their savings or want to alter their portfolios.

At the same time, companies enjoy constant access to capital through equity rights issues.

By facilitating longer-term and more profitable investments, liquid stock markets improve the allocation of scarce resources, that is capital, and the promotion of production of goods and services as well as employment and therefore enhance prospects for long-term economic growth.

Additionally, by lowering enterprise risks and increasing profitability, stock market liquidity can direct more investment and contribute to increased prosperity.

Empirical studies have established that stock market liquidity affects economic growth by and large, and there is a diminishing return to liquidity as a country progresses toward development.

In other words, Bangladesh is in the right stage of development to benefit from a liquid stock market.

But Bangladesh's capital market is rather illiquid compared with its peers. For instance, the daily trading value, a metric for liquidity, is around $81 million in contrast to Vietnam's $714 million.

And solving the problem is Dawn Global, a London-based boutique investment firm.

Last month, it launched an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that provided easy entry to global investors, particularly American ones, to the bourses of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam -- five large and fast-growing but historically difficult-to-access markets.

An ETF is a basket of securities that tracks an index, sector, commodity or other assets, but which can be purchased or sold on a stock exchange the same as a regular stock.

Investors who purchase shares of an ETF can gain exposure to a basket of equities and limit company-specific risk associated with single stocks.

Called the Asian Growth Cubs ETF, Dawn Global's investment vehicle is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

By way of the Cubs ETF, American investors, for the first time, can get a slice of Bangladesh's stock market -- which yielded the highest return of 21.3 percent amongst its Asian peers in 2020 -- without going through the hassle needed to invest directly.

As much as 17 percent of the Cubs ETF is dedicated to Bangladesh.

At present, the Cubs ETF has positions in eight Bangladeshi stocks: Brac Bank, Grameenphone, Square Pharmaceuticals, Renata Pharmaceuticals, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Summit Power, Marico and Beacon Pharmaceuticals.

Over the past year, save for Grameenphone the stock prices of all posted gains upwards of 25 percent, with Beximco and Beacon's stock prices more than doubling in value.

"Bangladesh is a remarkable long-term economic success story and yet this story is hard to access for foreign investors given the lack of ETF or ADR [American Depository Receipts] coverage in Bangladesh," said Maurits Pots, founder and chief executive officer of Dawn Global.

ADRs offer US investors a means to gain investment exposure to non-US stocks without the complexities of dealing in foreign stock markets.

"Through the Cubs ETF I am hoping I can make this unique Bangladeshi story more accessible to foreign investors," said Pots, who is being advised by Nihad Kabir, president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The five economies have individually grown GDP faster than 6 percent a year since 2000, while Bangladesh and Vietnam have compounded GDP for 40 consecutive years including 2020, according to Dawn Global.

Most emerging market investors focus on China and India among Asian countries and yet there is a compelling long-term secular growth story in five Asian countries with a combined population of more than 860 million, which is expected to grow to one billion by 2035 and with attractive demographics, Pots said.

The average age is 28 in the markets with a burgeoning middle-class and accelerating digital adoption, he added.

And Dawn Global's launch of the ETF could not be more opportune: partly as a result of monetary and fiscal stimulus for the US economy, more money than ever has flowed into the financial system.

The glut of cash is looking for a home in a dwindling supply of positive-yielding places as US markets flirt with negative interest rates.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/japan-tobaccos-huge-fdi-cant-find-footing-bangladesh-270754#.YOM9WCpf6X0.facebook

Abbas Uddin Noyon & Shawkat Ali

05 July, 2021, 10:55 pm

Japan Tobacco’s huge FDI can’t find footing in Bangladesh

It alleges it has faced unequal competition from British American Tobacco

Japan Tobacco International came to Bangladesh with the highest-ever investment in the country's history, but it failed to fare well because of what its officials claim was the dominance and anti-competitive activities of British American Tobacco.

 

They have also blamed the government's tax policy.

But other tobacco companies say Japan Tobacco's allegations are not true – it failed to understand the Bangladesh market and could not maintain a smooth supply chain when Covid-19 broke out last year, they say.

Japan Tobacco launched in the Bangladesh market with a Tk12,400 crore investment after acquiring Akij Group's Dhaka Tobacco in 2018. Its market share was 19.8% at the time, which has now come down to 12.6%.

Its cigarette sales also fell significantly in this period.

Experts blame Japan Tobacco's hiring of foreigners in top positions who could not produce and market products in line with the taste of local consumers.

Policy Research Institute Executive Director Ahsan H Mansur says a company first needs to understand a market and the taste of local consumers if it wants to occupy it.

"It also needs to employ locals in top positions. Japan Tobacco did not do that. They should think about it," he told The Business Standard.

The Japan-based multinational company recently wrote to the Bangladesh Competition Commission, expressing concern about its survival. It claimed to have faced unequal competition from British American Tobacco.

Early this year, the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh wrote to Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, raising similar allegations. He also questioned Bangladesh's tax structure and warned that these issues might hinder other Japanese investments in Bangladesh in the future.

Shezami Khalil, head of corporate communications at Japan Tobacco, said they had filed the complaint with the competition commission as they had faced anti-competitive activities and dominant behaviour from a leading market player.

She also said they were unable to proactively divulge any more information about this due to the sensitive nature of the complaint and to maintain confidentiality.

Bangladesh Competition Commission Chairman Md Mofizul Islam said they were looking into Japan Tobacco's complaint.

He said they would hold a hearing in the presence of both parties after the probe was over and then would decide on a verdict.

Action may be taken against British American Tobacco if it is found guilty, he added.

But British American Tobacco has denied the allegation and blamed Japan Tobacco's management and marketing policy for the decline in its business. It says Japan Tobacco has lagged behind due to the lack of a proper marketing policy and changing cigarette flavours without understanding the taste of Bangladeshi consumers.

Golam Mainuddin, chairman of British American Tobacco, told The Business Standard that they had taken Japan Tobacco's complaint seriously and high officials of both companies had discussed it.

He said all the allegations against his company had been proven false.

"We also offered them help so that their complaint does not hinder foreign direct investment inflow to Bangladesh in the future," he added.

British American Tobacco's financial reports show the company, with a market share of over 70%, had been growing steadily even before Japan Tobacco came to Bangladesh. Compared to 2019, it sold over 500 crore more cigarette sticks in 2020, which mainly included mid-priced brands.

In 2019, its sales rose by 100 crore sticks compared to the previous year. In the first quarter of this year, it registered more than 10% growth in sales.

In the three years since 2018, its turnover increased from Tk23,000 crore to Tk28,000 crore.

A top official of the company said they had been enjoying more than 10% growth even before Japan Tobacco hit the Bangladesh market.

He said their business was growing as their marketing policies were in tune with the local market. "We are not occupying other companies' market share."

After acquiring Dhaka Tobacco, Japan Tobacco changed the size of the Navy cigarettes, a brand that was Dhaka Tobacco's highest-selling cigarette. At the time, British American Tobacco and Abul Khair Tobacco sales rose.

British American Tobacco, which operates in 180 countries, recently celebrated 110 years of business in Bangladesh.

Japan Tobacco has operations in 130 countries and employs about 60,000 people. It markets Winston, Camel, Mevius and LD cigarettes, which are well-known brands in different countries.

Like the British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco also markets e-cigarettes. The Japanese government has a 33.35% stake in Japan Tobacco International.

Japan Tobacco currently sells cigarettes of several brands, including LD, Navy, Sheikh, K2, and Real.

British American Tobacco brands include Gold Leaf, Benson, Capstan, Star, Royals, Derby, Pilot, and Hollywood.

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12 hours ago, Joel Ahmed said:

https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/japan-tobaccos-huge-fdi-cant-find-footing-bangladesh-270754#.YOM9WCpf6X0.facebook

Abbas Uddin Noyon & Shawkat Ali

05 July, 2021, 10:55 pm

Japan Tobacco’s huge FDI can’t find footing in Bangladesh

It alleges it has faced unequal competition from British American Tobacco

Japan Tobacco International came to Bangladesh with the highest-ever investment in the country's history, but it failed to fare well because of what its officials claim was the dominance and anti-competitive activities of British American Tobacco.

 

They have also blamed the government's tax policy.

But other tobacco companies say Japan Tobacco's allegations are not true – it failed to understand the Bangladesh market and could not maintain a smooth supply chain when Covid-19 broke out last year, they say.

Japan Tobacco launched in the Bangladesh market with a Tk12,400 crore investment after acquiring Akij Group's Dhaka Tobacco in 2018. Its market share was 19.8% at the time, which has now come down to 12.6%.

Its cigarette sales also fell significantly in this period.

Experts blame Japan Tobacco's hiring of foreigners in top positions who could not produce and market products in line with the taste of local consumers.

Policy Research Institute Executive Director Ahsan H Mansur says a company first needs to understand a market and the taste of local consumers if it wants to occupy it.

"It also needs to employ locals in top positions. Japan Tobacco did not do that. They should think about it," he told The Business Standard.

The Japan-based multinational company recently wrote to the Bangladesh Competition Commission, expressing concern about its survival. It claimed to have faced unequal competition from British American Tobacco.

Early this year, the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh wrote to Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, raising similar allegations. He also questioned Bangladesh's tax structure and warned that these issues might hinder other Japanese investments in Bangladesh in the future.

Shezami Khalil, head of corporate communications at Japan Tobacco, said they had filed the complaint with the competition commission as they had faced anti-competitive activities and dominant behaviour from a leading market player.

She also said they were unable to proactively divulge any more information about this due to the sensitive nature of the complaint and to maintain confidentiality.

Bangladesh Competition Commission Chairman Md Mofizul Islam said they were looking into Japan Tobacco's complaint.

He said they would hold a hearing in the presence of both parties after the probe was over and then would decide on a verdict.

Action may be taken against British American Tobacco if it is found guilty, he added.

But British American Tobacco has denied the allegation and blamed Japan Tobacco's management and marketing policy for the decline in its business. It says Japan Tobacco has lagged behind due to the lack of a proper marketing policy and changing cigarette flavours without understanding the taste of Bangladeshi consumers.

Golam Mainuddin, chairman of British American Tobacco, told The Business Standard that they had taken Japan Tobacco's complaint seriously and high officials of both companies had discussed it.

He said all the allegations against his company had been proven false.

"We also offered them help so that their complaint does not hinder foreign direct investment inflow to Bangladesh in the future," he added.

British American Tobacco's financial reports show the company, with a market share of over 70%, had been growing steadily even before Japan Tobacco came to Bangladesh. Compared to 2019, it sold over 500 crore more cigarette sticks in 2020, which mainly included mid-priced brands.

In 2019, its sales rose by 100 crore sticks compared to the previous year. In the first quarter of this year, it registered more than 10% growth in sales.

In the three years since 2018, its turnover increased from Tk23,000 crore to Tk28,000 crore.

A top official of the company said they had been enjoying more than 10% growth even before Japan Tobacco hit the Bangladesh market.

He said their business was growing as their marketing policies were in tune with the local market. "We are not occupying other companies' market share."

After acquiring Dhaka Tobacco, Japan Tobacco changed the size of the Navy cigarettes, a brand that was Dhaka Tobacco's highest-selling cigarette. At the time, British American Tobacco and Abul Khair Tobacco sales rose.

British American Tobacco, which operates in 180 countries, recently celebrated 110 years of business in Bangladesh.

Japan Tobacco has operations in 130 countries and employs about 60,000 people. It markets Winston, Camel, Mevius and LD cigarettes, which are well-known brands in different countries.

Like the British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco also markets e-cigarettes. The Japanese government has a 33.35% stake in Japan Tobacco International.

Japan Tobacco currently sells cigarettes of several brands, including LD, Navy, Sheikh, K2, and Real.

British American Tobacco brands include Gold Leaf, Benson, Capstan, Star, Royals, Derby, Pilot, and Hollywood.

If these allegation are true then Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) must investigate JTI's claim. At the same time, I am also blaming JTI for not doing proper research before acquiring Tobacco Division from Akij Group.   

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/transport/australian-firm-offers-16bn-loan-high-speed-rail-projects-221689

24 March, 2021, 10:25 pm

Australian firm offers $16bn loan for high-speed rail projects

 

The Australian investor will supply the fund through the bespoke portfolio – a process to raise money from the global money market, said officials at the Bangladesh Railway

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Australia's Providus Investments has come up with an attractive lending offer for implementing Bangladesh's two megaprojects – the Dhaka-Chattogram high-speed train lines and the Bhanga-Payra rail link.

The multinational lender will provide $16 billion – the entire funding for the two projects – with a 30-year repayment period, according to the investment proposal sent to the Ministry of Railways.

Sources at the Bangladesh Railway have told The Business Standard that Providus has offered a lower interest for the loan than multiple foreign lenders, including Chinese corporations, have offered.

The Australian investor will supply the fund through the bespoke portfolio – a process to raise money from the global money market, said officials at the Bangladesh Railway.

On 7 October 2020, Providus wrote to the railways ministry, expressing its interest in providing the loan.

On 9 March 2021, the investor apprised Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan and ministry high-ups of its investment plan through a PowerPoint presentation.

Terming the investment proposal "more attractive" than those from other lenders, the railways ministry has already sent it to the finance ministry's Economic Relations Division (ERD) for assessment, sources said.

"It does not matter what we think about the proposal as the ERD will take the final decision," Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan told The Business Standard.

"We only informed the ERD about how much money we need for the projects, that is all," added the minister.

The government has taken up a number of mega-projects to make the state-run rail transport company, Bangladesh Railway, modern and profitable. The Dhaka-Chattogram high-speed train and the Bhanga-Payra rail link are two major initiatives among the projects.

Alongside land acquisition, the two projects will cost the government around $15.8 billion. The cost for the high-speed rail line has been estimated at $11.4 billion while the Bhanga-Payra rail link will require $4.4 billion.

According to Providus, it will not charge interest on the loans during the project implementation period and there will not be any hard conditions such as contractor appointment. Moreover, the projects will directly be handed over to the railway on completion.

In the meantime, a potential home-grown investor who is interested in joint financing with Providus in the two projects praised the nature of the Australian loan.

A high official of the local venture said, "The Providus loan proposal is easy to understand, more attractive and comes with lower interest than what the previous lenders offered."

Bangladesh Railway is currently implementing a project to run the feasibility study and to design the proposed high-speed train lines from Dhaka to Chattogram via Cumilla.

The 227.3km new route will have seven stops – Dhaka, Dhaka Depot, Narayanganj, Cumilla, Feni, Pahartali and Chattogram. Travel time between Dhaka and Chattogram will be 73 minutes for trains stopping at the intermediate stations, and 55 minutes for non-stop trains.

The trains, which will run at a top speed of 300km per hour, can carry approximately 50,000 passengers each way daily. The China Railway Design Corporation and local Majumder Enterprise will submit the design to the railway soon.

On the other hand, the Bhanga-Payra rail link project will be 213.3km long – 189.5km main line from Bhanga to Payra port and 23.8km from Payra to Kuakata. The project will have 19 stations, 22 major and 50 minor bridges and 434 underpasses and box culverts.

Railway sources said multiple foreign lenders previously proposed funding under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) and Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangements.

The Chinese contractors said they will arrange the funding for the project implementation, while Providus says it will implement the projects with the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) collaboration with the railways ministry.

Md Jahangir Hossain, general manager of Eastern Railway, said they have received a couple of investment proposals for the two mega-projects. "I think the most qualified firm will get the work," he added.

Providus has already provided about $70 billion in loan assistance to various countries, including Australia, the United States, and Tanzania. With Providus funding, the lender proposed the railways ministry to carry out the projects by reputed multinational constructors such as Webuild, Laing O'Rourke, Bechtel, Hyundai or Fluor.

Chinese corporations interested in high-speed train

Two Chinese corporations – the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) – have shown interests in constructing the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar high-speed railway lines.

The two corporations said they will jointly form a company to implement the project. The proposed company will arrange the loans for the project, and hand over the rail lines to the Bangladesh Railway after operating for five years.

On 9 October last year, a proposal in this regard was sent to the railways ministry through the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Dhaka and the Public-Private Partnership Authority Bangladesh.

According to the proposal, the loan that the proposed company will arrange will cover the implementation cost plus interest, spending for maintenance and operation of trains and the profit of the company.

The CRCC and the CCECC will also arrange bank loans with a 20-year repayment period. The Bangladesh Railway will have to repay the loans in 40 installments – two installments per year. The finance ministry will be the guarantor of the loans.

UK firm interested in Bhanga-Payra rail investment

In 2019, London-based IM Power Plc proposed implementing the "Integrated Rail and Energy Project" in Bangladesh.

In the proposal submitted to the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), IM Power expressed interest in constructing a double-track electric rail line from Payra Port to Dhaka via Bhanga in the first phase for transporting containers and other items.

The engineering consultant proposed $11.7 billion investment in the project in three phases. The engineering consultant hinted at implementing the project on the PPP basis through a contract group or consortium.

IM Power proposed the construction in the design-build-operate-and-maintain model with a 50-year tenure.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/trade/japanese-engineering-firm-plans-to-expand-operations-in-bangladesh-1625576804

Japanese engineering firm plans to expand operations in Bangladesh

 

Published:  July 06, 2021 19:06:45 | Updated:  July 07, 2021 11:24:28

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TOA Corporation, a world-renowned Japanese engineering company, plans expansion of its operations in Bangladesh.

The 113-year-old company established its branch office in Bangladesh in 2020 as part of its expansion plan.

Since then, the company has remained engaged in land development works for Bangladesh Special Economic Zone Development under Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Project (FDIPP).

Known as the Japanese Economic Zone, it is a project under Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Separately, TOA is contributing in Bangladesh to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge Construction Project as a joint venture with other two Japanese companies- Obayashi Corporation and JFE Engineering Corporation.

According to the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), a total of 321 Japanese companies are currently operating their businesses in the country. The number was 83 in 2010.

Talking to BSS, General Manager of TOA Corporation Bangladesh Office Mitsuhiro Torii expressed his interest to contribute not only to Japan’s ODA projects but also other infrastructure development projects.

He said as Bangladesh is a vastly populated country there are diversified business scopes here and those are attracting many investors to come and expand their business.

 He urged the government to reduce the trade barriers, including complicated taxation system, high tax rate and high import and export tariff, and simplify the administrative system for inviting the foreign investors to invest in Bangladesh aggressively.

 Torii stated that in order to run and expand business in Bangladesh, they need to acquire collaborations and supports from various local companies of Bangladesh and they will appreciate it if such companies communicate with them and extend their hands to support them.

In business relationship sharing, concrete, accurate and transparent information is imperative and this improves the bonding to sustain in long run, he added.

He thanked the Bangladesh government for its strong efforts to ensure effective and strong security measures after the terrorist attack in Holey Artisan.

Deputy General Manager of the TOA Corporation Bangladesh Office Kazuo Tachi said Japan was one of the earliest countries to officially recognize Bangladesh and warm friendship has developed between the peoples of the two countries ever since; with Japan being the biggest bilateral development partner in the history of Bangladesh and the economic relations between the two nations is continuously growing and this is the main reason why Japanese companies are investing in Bangladesh.

He also said Bangladesh has been implementing several mega infrastructure projects to accelerate the growth of international trade, targeting to graduate from the grouping of the least developed countries (LDC) and this is imperative to be an advanced economy by 2041.

Since its establishment in 1908, TOA Corporation is engaged especially in marine works for harbours and related facilities, dredging and reclamation work, and construction of coastline buildings, airports, marine leisure facilities, warehouses for distribution, factories, and power plants.

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https://www.newagebd.net/article/142846/japan-based-minori-to-take-over-emerald-oil

Mostafizur Rahman | Published: 23:02, Jul 04,2021

Japan-based Minori to take over Emerald Oil

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Minori Bangladesh Limited, an arm of Japanese farming group Minori Co Limited, will take over non-performing Emerald Oil Industries Limited.

Minori Bangladesh has recently nominated Sidratul Mahabub Hasan as representative of the company to the Emerald Oil board after purchasing around 8 per cent shares of the company.

BSEC chairman Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam told New Age that Minori

Bangladesh will take control of Emerald Oil soon as the previous sponsor-directors had fled the company.

The company will invest a fresh Tk 50 crore into Emerald Oil to address the current needs and bring it to operation, he said.

It will also mitigate the outstanding banks loans of Emerald Oil, the BSEC chairman said.

The company will be given shares against the investment of Tk 50 crore, he said.

Earlier on March 2, the BSEC restructured the board of directors of Emerald Oil by appointing five independent directors to the company’s board in a bid to bring the non-functioning company back to business and protect the interests of investors.

Two directors had to be nominated from the shareholders having at least 2 per cent shares of the paid-up capital of the company, the BSEC said in its order.

Emerald Oil, a rice-brand edible oil producer, is not in operation and has failed to declare dividends for shareholders for the last four years.

The previous board of directors did not take any initiative to bring the company back to business over the period of time and the company has failed to declare a cash dividend since 2015, said the regulator.

Minori’s Bangladesh operations are based in Tangail while its Japanese operations are based in Chiba prefecture, next to Tokyo.

The company focuses mainly on organic crops, including rice, vegetables and fruits, and also partners with local farmers in the region to support their production efficiency and to buy their harvests.

Emerald Oil Industries was established in 2008 with a mission to producing edible oil which is a common item needed for the preparation of daily food.

The company made its debut on stock exchanges on March 19, 2014.

Emerald Oil has been producing refined rice bran edible oil Spondon since 2011.

Emerald Oil’s stocks were being traded under the ‘Z’ category since 2018 due to losses incurred and announcement of no dividends.

Share price of the company stood at Tk 10.8 per share on March 21 that jumped to Tk 28.3 a share on June 30 after a reconstitution of the board.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/policy-cards-boost-investment-agro-processing-271771#.YOZ8gBHKE4s.facebook

Saifuddin Saif & Shawkat Ali

08 July, 2021, 09:55 am

Last modified: 08 July, 2021, 10:03 am

Policy on cards to boost investment in agro-processing

 

The draft Agro-food Processing Industry Policy 2021 calls for ensuring $5 billion foreign investment over the next five years

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TBS Infograph

The Ministry of Industries has drafted the Agro-food Processing Industry Policy 2021 to attract investments in the agro-processing sector that remains largely ignored by entrepreneurs despite having huge prospects both in the domestic and international markets.

 

In many countries of the world, including neighbouring India, ripe mangoes are processed as canned and frozen slices and in various other ways, and are sold throughout the year.

According to online marketplace Alibaba, the top three markets for processed mangoes are Eastern Asia (40% of the market), Middle East (20%) and North America (10%), where dried mangoes, frozen dried mangoes, soft sweet dried mangoes and sliced mangoes are in high demand.

Even though over 20 lakh tonnes of mangoes are produced in Bangladesh every year, no agro processing industry here markets the fruit by processing it in these ways. Consumers can buy mangoes directly from the market for only about three months during the harvesting season. Producers also are deprived of fair prices of their produce as supply exceeds the demand during this period.

In spite of having huge potential both in the domestic and international markets, mango processing in the country is limited to juice production by a few companies.

The same is true of jackfruit.

About 19 metric tonnes of jackfruit have been produced in the country this year.

Notwithstanding that the national fruit is produced in a huge quantity each year, no initiative is visible to market jackfruit pulp by processing it or making any other product from it. On the contrary, it is sometimes seen that farmers are throwing jackfruits on the road due to low prices.

In order to attract investments in the agro-food processing sector, the government will provide various incentives including capital assistance at nominal interest rates, interest subsidies, tax exemption on imports of capital machinery, research incentives, laboratory grants, waiver of income tax, and skilled workers, as mentioned in the draft policy agro-processing industry policy.

The draft policy calls for ensuring $5 billion foreign investment over the next five years. It is expected to create new employment opportunities for 1 lakh people.

The industries ministry has already sent the draft policy to various ministries, agencies and business associations for their feedback. Once they give their opinion, the policy will be taken up in the cabinet meeting for final approval.

The policy focuses on the processing of fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, fish, poultry, eggs, meat and meat products, flowers and grains, including grading and packing.

The policy also covers confectionery processing including bread, oilseeds, breakfast foods, biscuits, snacks, cocoa, refined coconut oil, barley pulp, protein foods, high protein foods and breast milk substitutes.

It proposes special facilities for scientifically established tissue cell laboratories, and establishment of modern greenhouse and seed production units to meet the industrial standards.
At the same time, a strategy has been adopted for halal branding of products besides maintaining quality.
 
Capital assistance

The policy proposes to provide 50% of the total capital or highest Tk50cr in flexible loans at a nominal interest rate to those who will invest in agro-processing industries within the stipulated time.

To avail this loan facility, a SME industrial unit has to go into production within 12 months of getting the capital assistance. For large industrial units the time limit is 24 months.

The same facility will be available for setting up primary processing centres (PPCs), primary supply centres (PSCs) in the industry

However, if anyone wants to invest in the technological development and modernisation of their existing food processing industry units, they will get 25% of the project cost or a maximum of Tk50 crore as capital assistance.

The government will also provide this facility for setting up cold chains of agriculture, horticulture, dairy and meat products, the policy states.
 
Interest subsidy

The policy proposes that 5% or highest Tk20cr annual interest subsidy be given on loans taken on condition of fixed capital investment for industrial units and cold chain infrastructure.

This facility will be available for seven years from the date of commissioning of the factory.

In the case of PPCs and PSCs, the interest subsidy has been proposed at 5% or maximum Tk10cr per year.

The draft policy also proposes incentives and duty cuts on exports, transport purchases, capital machinery imports, cash assistance in research, allotment of stalls for participation in fairs abroad.
 
Duty waiver

According to the policy, tariffs will be reduced by up to 50% on the purchase price of air-conditioned vehicles for processing industrial units. Nonetheless, the maximum amount of this discount will be Tk10 lakh.

In addition, the government will provide cash incentives at the highest rate to industrial units for the export of perishable goods from the date of their commercial production. The maximum limit of this incentive for an industrial unit will be Tk50 lakh. At the same time, the government will waive corporate income tax for two years.

The policy has also attached importance to research to develop the market of this sector. Therefore, it proposes up to 50% of the cost or a maximum of Tk25 crore, if an industrial institute conducts research by a government-approved research institute.

Besides, a maximum of Tk5 crore or no more than 50% of the project cost will be provided for laboratory development, the draft policy says.
 
Infrastructure development

The government will set up agro-food technology parks or agricultural export zones near seaports, markets and airports within the next five years. It will also establish special economic zones for rapid industrialization.

Several steps have been taken to implement the initiatives.

The engineering colleges and universities of the country will introduce Food Engineering Management as a specialised subject.

Institutions of food processing industry technology will be set up in collaboration with the Institutions of Developed Countries, FAO of the United Nations Food and Agriculture

Organisation, where industry related subjects will be taught and technical manpower will be created.

The government has established the Agro Food ISC (AFISC) under the National Skills Development Authority (NSDA). The government will fund the AFISC to undertake vocational training activities. In addition, for the certification of halal products and evaluation of other products, importance will be given to the certification of various domestic and foreign companies.

Besides, the government wants to develop the sector through food packaging, testing quality improvement, supply chain development so that it is possible to increase the export by meeting the demand for quality products in the country.

The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI), the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), the Bangladesh Accreditation Board (BAB) and Islamic Foundation will work on product innovation and quality improvement.

The government will also soon set up an agricultural food processing board. The government will form the board with members from all sub-sector associations in Dhaka to help increase productivity in the sector and create greater market connections with farmers.

An agro-food processing industry development council will be formed to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the policy at the national level.

It is learnt that about 2.5 lakh people are directly working in the agro-processing industry.

In addition, a large number of people are working in various segments including backward linkages such as farmers involved in the production of agricultural products, employees of packaging material manufacturing factories and suppliers but the Bangladesh Agro-processors Association (Bapa) does not have specific data on this.

Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, chairman and CEO of Pran-RFL Group said that the market for agro-processing products in Bangladesh will not be less than Tk50,000 crore.

However, Bapa does not have accurate statistics on the issue.

According to Bapa, goods worth $400 million were exported in the 2019-20 fiscal year. The amount is expected to exceed Tk450 crore in FY21. At present, agro-processed products are being exported to 144 countries, according to Bapa.

The agricultural sector contributes 13.6% to the country's GDP while 40.62% of the total workforces of the country are employed in the sector. A large part of this sector is the agro-processing industry that is currently contributing 8% to the manufacturing sector of Bangladesh.

According to data released by Bapa in 2017, the contribution of the agro-processing industry to GDP is more than 1%.

Asked about the policy, Syed Mohammad Shoaib Hassan, vice president of Bapa, said, "If the incentives mentioned in the policy are given, it is possible to meet the investment and employment targets."

He, however, cast doubt over the implementation of the policy. "Many agencies will work focusing on this issue. In that case if the coordination is not done properly, it will not bring the desired results."

Professor Dr Md Abdul Alim of the Department of Food Technology and Rural Industries at Bangladesh Agricultural University, said 40% of fruits and vegetables produced in the country are wasted due to a lack of preservation facilities.

If these agricultural products can be processed, they can be supplied throughout the year, he said, adding there is also a huge opportunity to export these agricultural products to foreign markets by adding value to them through processing.

"Many organisations in Bangladesh are doing this. For example, Pran Group is exporting food processed products to 144 countries. Further expansion of this industry will require our investment, technology and skilled manpower."

He further added that the food processing industry, like the ready-made garment industry, has huge potential. It is important to establish a food engineering university to make use of this opportunity, he concluded.
 

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Ahsan Habib Tuhin

10 July, 2021, 09:05 pm

Last modified: 10 July, 2021, 09:14 pm

https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/stocks/sri-lankan-firm-plans-get-listed-5-years-272968#.YOm5fK93AjQ.facebook

Sri Lankan firm plans to get listed in 5 years 

Wood coating supplier JAT Holdings Bangladesh has a plan to set up a factory 

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Highlights 

  • JAT Holdings Bangladesh has a plan to set up a factory to produce coating under its own brand "White" and enhance research and development facility for wood coating by investing Tk12 crore.
  • JAT Holdings Bangladesh has started its journey in 2009 together with local business conglomerate Akhter Group. 
  • The company distributed the wood coating under the brand name "Sayerlack", an Italian brand that provides wood finishes in the industry.

JAT Holdings Bangladesh (Pvt) Limited, an affiliate company of Sri Lanka-based JAT Holdings, plans to get listed on local stock exchanges in the next five years.

"JAT Holdings is looking at getting listed on Bangladesh's capital market in the next five years," JAT Holdings Chairman Dr Sivakumar Selliah said in the company's recently-held annual general meeting in Sri Lanka. 

That is why JAT Holdings Bangladesh has a plan to set up a factory to produce coating under its own brand "White" and enhance research and development facility for wood coating by investing Tk12 crore.

To strengthen its overseas operations, the mother company JAT Holdings will raise funds by issuing shares in the Colombo Stock Exchange.

Managing Director of JAT Holdings Aelian Gunawardene at the virtual launch of the initial public offering (IPO) said that this investment would be made from the proceeds raised from the proposed IPO which would be launched on 20 July. The overseas operation investments would be made through a fully owned subsidiary of JAT Holdings, which is based in Dubai.

The managing director said, "We will be investing Tk1.68 crore for enhancing the existing research and development facility to a fully-fledged, state-of-the-art facility for all coatings and a further Tk10 crore locally for expanding the "White" brand coating by JAT marketing and development initiatives."

Bangladesh has a good central bank that has kept the exchange rate stable for over a decade and has avoided currency crises and monetary instability, he added.

JAT Holdings Bangladesh has started its journey in 2009 together with local business conglomerate Akhter Group. The company distributed the wood coating under the brand name "Sayerlack", an Italian brand that provides wood finishes in the industry.

When contacted with its local office, the responder has denied making any comments over this issue.

The company claimed in its annual report that currently JAT enjoys a market share of 30% in the wood coating segment in Bangladesh and the brand is synonymous with the high-quality wood coatings in the country and is the exclusive supplier to seven of the 15 largest local industrial furnishing exporters.

Furthermore, revenues from Bangladesh, the top export destination fell from Tk70 crore in 2020 to Tk23 crore in 2021, making it the second-largest market, after Sri Lanka.

The wood coating market depends on the furniture and wood industry. Stakeholders believe the growth of this industry has primarily been driven by the country's flourishing corporate sector in the last 20 years. The industry now enjoys an annual growth of 18-20%.

The country's furniture industry is huge, with yearly revenues exceeding Tk10,000 crore.

At present Berger Paints led the coating industry.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/business/economy/2021/06/04/budget-fy22-railway-gets-more-allocation-for-mega-projects

 Published at 12:23 am June 4th, 2021

Budget FY22: Railway gets more allocation for mega projects

 

Despite its failure to fully spend its budgetary allotment of the 2020-2021 fiscal, the government has decided to increase the allocation for the Ministry of Railways in the upcoming fiscal year intending to improve connectivity.

In the budget proposed for the 2021-22 fiscal on Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal set aside Tk17,542 crore for railways, some Tk1,216 crore more than the previous one.

It was proposed in the previous fiscal that the ministry get Tk16,326, but the amount was dropped down to Tk15,496 crore due to slow progress in the implementation of the mega projects.

Bangladesh Railway is currently implementing 36 projects, including three mega projects, to improve and modernize its services.

The three mega projects are the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project (PBRLP), the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gundam Rail Link Project and the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge Construction Project, on which over half of the total proposed allocation is supposed to be used.

Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan on Tuesday said that an additional six months would be needed to complete the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gundam Rail Link Project.

“It will be possible to open the Mawa-Bhanga segment of the PBRLP to traffic in June next year. Meanwhile, the Dhaka-Mawa section is scheduled to be opened by June 2023 and the whole project will be implemented by June 2024,” he said.

“As we are getting a large allocation for the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge Construction Project, we will try our utmost to utilize the funds properly,” he added.

 

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